What is your name and your current occupation?
Lee Daniels – Freelance Media Creative – Illustration/Animation/Editing/Graphic Design.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I havent’ had any particularly crazy jobs unless you count collecting shopping trollies for pocket money at Tescos as a 13 year old. I was a Digital Retouch Artist and Graphic Designer for 13 years before going freelance so slightly altering the appearance of subjects for amusement was not unheard of (with or without consent…)
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Producing my own animated shorts as solo projects is the most gratifying work I’ve done to date. I always wanted to be a cartoonist from a young age so, now, thanks to the extensive tools on Adobe off the shelf software and my years learning Photoshop and Illustrator on live projects, I basically have the knowledge and studio kit that I never thought attainable.
How did you become interested in animation?
That one’s easy… Tom and Jerry, Wile E Coyote… etc etc etc
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Originally from Lincolnshire, not known as the hotbed of the creative arts industry. I got into animation business by learning the software in my spare time and producing my own animations. Luckily, a few companies have spotted them online and I’m just in the process of negotiating my first few commissions. I went the route of employment and self tuition rather than education followed by employment. There is no ‘best way’ I think, just whatever suits you.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I try and fill my day with as much paid work as possible, being freelance is not day so when the work comes in, I never turn it down, even if it means pulling a few all-nighters. But I always leave myself 4-5 hours per week to work on personal projects, because it is those that bring the clients to me in the first place. Youtube, Behance, Twitter are the best advertising methods for getting your work seen.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Sending emails. Unfortunately, any creative job comes with the caveat that you must work through detailed descriptions with clients. While it’s good to collaborate with people and work out new ideas, this cannot always be done on the phone due to international timezones, so I spent a LOT of time writing emails. Also, the process of copyright needs explaining in detail to every client who is not aware of the issues involved in licensing artwork.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Apple Mac Pro with lots of processing guts, Wacom Cintiq digital screen tablet, Adobe Master Collection.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Getting your work seen and keeping work coming through the door is the biggest issue. I have been freelancing for around 7 years now (3.5 while employed and 3.5 full time) and I’ve been lucky enough to be busy the whole time. But I never get complacent about it and always spend a lot of time on advertising using social media.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve had the honour of having several of my cartoon shorts through to the final selections of film festivals, namely Burbank International Film Festival in L.A. and The Northwest Animation Festival in Oregon. I didn’t take away the price in either of them though, and this is because I was sandwiched within the amazing animated shorts from all the other festival entries. It’s a tough gig!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Making the decision to leave full time employment as a Graphic Designer and risk it all to be my own boss drawing cartoons for a living.
Any side projects or you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I’m always in the process of creating my next animated short. This is something I will try to keep up going forward. I will always aim to have one or two shorts at the very least out every year. My Shorts and illustrations can found on my site. Also, later this year, I’m aiming to direct my first live-action short with some like-minded creatives here in London.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I’ve always been a bit handy at producing vocal sound-effects without using any instruments. Which comes in handy…
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
This must have been said a thousand times, but just take the time to learn the techniques and software for yourself. I would suggest not getting too hung up on acquiring every qualification. They may help get through the door for employment but they don’t cover for lack of real-word application. Trial and error is my personal preference but I realise this is not everybody’s cup of tea!